I thought we’d start this newsletter with a short piece from Dr. Osiris, a young Honduran Missionary Physician currently serving at Loma de Luz. It is a story from one of her online posts:
This week at Hospital Loma de Luz, a little 8-year-old patient arrived whose story has deeply touched our hearts. She lost her whole family three years ago due to a tragic event in which she was shot and her home was burned to the ground. Besides the deep emotional pain which that left, she was also physically injured with 3rd degree burns on much of her body. Initially after the fire, she was brought to the hospital in La Ceiba where I was working at the time. We sent her to a specialized care hospital for her burns in the capital city, not knowing if she would survive or if I would ever see her again.
While everything seemed dark and lost, the Lord had a different plan for this little one by miraculously preserving her life. She did survive, and, three years after her tragedy, the Lord brought her to our hospital here at Loma de Luz through the kindness of friendly neighbors to check on complications from her burns.
In addition to her medical treatment, our team of doctors felt compelled to share the love of Christ with her through some fun gifts because, after all, we have a good God that loves giving gifts to his children. We talked about the best gift that our heavenly father has freely given to us: salvation through Jesus Christ. It was a privilege to share the gospel with her in such a unique way. We pray that those small seeds were planted in this little one’s heart and that in the future she may yield much fruit in his kingdom. We also pray he exchanges her ashes for beauty (Isaiah 61:3), that he may be glorified in her life.
Now, from Dr. Jeff….
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. –Matthew 5:4
In the heat of the bright sun and welcome shadows of midday yesterday, someone called out to me across the courtyard of the hospital. I turned and saw a young man with a big grin on his face heading my way. Not sure for an instant who it was, still, I changed course from whatever direction some now subsumed errand had been taking me. As he closed the few remaining footsteps between us, recognition kicked in with a bit of a shock and a 16x speed memory video of caring for Cristobal, and his little brother Juan Miguel. Cristobal gave me a big hug with his strong left arm, and, to the degree that he could, with his badly misshapen right arm. That was something he never did with anyone back when he was that scared, skinny little kid he was the last time I saw him. I stepped back and tousled his sweaty head and said, “Mírate,…. cómo has crecido! Eres hombre hecho y derecho.” More or less, “look at you, all grown up now.” He grinned and looked down at his feet and gave me another side hug. Then he asked if he could eat.
Cristobal first came to us in May of 2010. His upper right arm had been shot through and through about 3 months earlier by someone trying to shoot his ne’er-do-well father. My first thoughts of him from 13 ½ years ago are of this defiant little boy in dirty clothes with a floppy right arm, a big segment of mid-shaft humerus missing and a dense radial nerve palsy. He looked out at the world with these big stare-you-down eyes and a perpetual scowl that said, “I wish I could trust you, but that trust thing hasn’t worked out too well for me so far.” Cristobal was 5 ½ at the time.
As I reviewed Cristobal’s old chart today, that memory video slowed down to slow-motion. He had been cared for by so many good missionaries from the past, both in the Hospital, and at the Children’s Center. Their names and notes were all in the record there. Cristobal dropped out of sight about seven years ago, when that same ne’er-do-well father showed back up at the Children’s Center and took off with the boys for parts unknown and reasons that seemed to boil down to selfishness and pride.
Now here was Cristobal again, still skinny, a good bit taller, apparently not any richer, but stronger, not so scared, and at least independent of that ne’er-do-well old man. I’d kind of been expecting him actually. You see, Hannah, our youngest, all grown up now herself and in her first year in medical school, still maintains contact with her extensive ragamuffin network of street urchins past and present. Juan Miguel, Cristobal’s now 14-year-old brother, had texted Hannah saying Cristobal had broken his arm again in a moto wreck 2 years ago. They still didn’t have any money, but he wondered if we would take care of his brother. So… of course we would. That’s what we do. When he showed up some days later, that is what we did. Here is a photo of Cristobal’s X-Rays “before” today’s surgery.
That crazy malunion just distal to that crazy long plate is the 2-year-old fracture that
healed at that crazy angle without treatment while Cristobal was out there on his own again.
Here is today’s Post-op X-Ray of Cristobal’s arm. I know it still looks pretty crazy … but less crazy.
Now, X-Ray photos are one thing, but we don’t show photos of the rest of the damage. Evelin, the little girl Osiris wrote of, was the same age as Cristobal when she was shot and burned by invaders. We don’t show photos of her scars for the same reasons. And some scars you can only see in their eyes. Gunshot wounds in 5-year-olds have life-long consequences. …. Now I know that one day there will be a reckoning, and that I am not going to be the judge. Still, if you care for enough injured children, you begin to wonder if a judicious application, in this life, of those millstone necktie vertical swimming lessons Jesus spoke of might make the bad guys and
the dumb guys think twice before perpetrating some violence that might hurt “one of these little ones”….But I digress.
Beyond photos of X-Rays, here is the rest of Cristobal. That is Dr. Rich Owens at his side. Rich is an Orthopedic Surgeon who has for many years come to Loma de Luz faithfully each year, sometimes twice a year, to offer his time and expertise to a lot of injured souls. One of those injured souls is Cristobal. You can see that Cristobal is not an X-Ray of a badly incapacitated arm. Cristobal is a young man who has been shaped by tragedy, disability, and loss. But he is also a young man with special depths, abilities, and strengths, and a soul who has been shaped by key people who came to his side when he needed help, people who were there by his side as they walked out their faith.
“Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” That is Jesus’s second radical pronouncement at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Two millennia later it is pretty easy to pass by that statement as some vaguely “nice” potential future pat on the back. Yet that is not close to what Jesus said. Matthew, the disciple who wrote it down, was standing there listening carefully to his Master, and was aided by the Holy Spirit to maintain His meaning exactly. The Greek word translated in English as “to be comforted,” from all of the first manuscripts is “parakleo.” Parakleo does not mean to comfort like giving an ice cream cone or putting in a fluffy bed. It means to call someone to your side, to call someone to come near in order to strengthen and encourage them. Here Jesus declares one of the bedrock components of the radical new covenant between God and man. God doesn’t just bless the suffering and grieving with some generic balm of comfort from a distance. He calls them to come to His side and stays with them through the pain.
Now, at this stage of my life, I’m pretty sure that I know less about a lot of things than I thought I knew when I was young. But I have learned something about people in pain. For more than 40 years it has been my profession and my privilege to care for those who mourn; the sick and injured, people facing debility and cancer and loss and death, along with those who mourn with them. It is my job to offer solutions, and people need solutions for the pain. But beyond solutions, I’ve come to know that people in pain don’t need empty promises or platitudes. Jesus saw right through to what they need. They need someone to sit with them and share their pain. We sons of Adam and daughters of Eve are incalculably less able to comfort than is the one who knew us by name before we were born. But we are created in His image. And we each carry something we can offer to those who mourn. We can sit with them at their side.
We try to remember to do that… at Loma de Luz.
In the shadow of the Savior,
Jefferson McKenney, M.D.
News and Needs
1 – There are signs that the invasion which has been dividing and threatening our community for the past couple of years is losing steam. Recently a judge ruled in favor of the rightful landowners. The next step is to find a means by which to evict the invaders. Your prayers are both effective and needed all the more.
2- The teachers would like to communicate a special thank you message: “We are grateful for all the donations of books that came in for our school library and we are excited to have that up and running soon/once the container arrives.”
3- Two of our excellent young Honduran Missionary Doctors, Dr. Osiris and Dr. Javier, will be at the Cornerstone Foundation’s booth at the Global Health Missions Conference in Louisville Kentucky Nov. 9-11. If you’d like to meet them and can make it, please feel free to drop by the booth.
4- We have upper-level administrative positions we are hoping to fill, both for the Cornerstone Foundation in the US and at Loma de Luz in Honduras. If the Lord lays this or some potential particular person on your heart, please contact our HR Manager, Jody Siegrist, at [email protected].
5- Don’t forget to follow our social media pages to see frequent updates on Facebook at “The Cornerstone Foundation” and on Instagram at “cornerstoneldl”!
Thank you for your prayers, service, and gifts, both in the past and now.
I’m grateful we serve a Lord who has promised to be by our side
“yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).